All the Light We Cannot See Part One: Chapters 9–31 Summary & Analysis

Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

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All the Light We Cannot See Part One: Chapters 9–31 Summary & Analysis

Part One: 1934

Chapter 9 Summary: Muséum National de l’Histoire Naturelle

A 6-year-old Marie-Laure tours the Natural History Museum, where her father works as a locksmith, with other children. The tour director tells them a fantastic story about a jewel kept in the museum called the Sea of Flames. In the story their guide tells, the goddess of the earth made the jewel for her lover, the god of the sea. She sent it down a river toward her love, but a prince stole the jewel from a dry riverbed. She cursed the jewel until it is returned to its true home: the sea. Meanwhile, the jewel, locked away for 200 years inside the museum, brings its owner immortal life, but destroys everyone the owner loves. It is a large blue diamond with a red center; it is priceless. It is just one of the many precious objects contained in the museum. Marie-Laure is not impressed with the story, or with the supposed value of the diamond. One month later, she is blind.

Chapter 10 Summary: Zollverein

Seven-year-old Werner Pfennig grows up in a coal-mining town called Zollverein, just outside Essen, in Germany. He and his sister, Jutta, are orphans; they are being raised in the Children’s House by Frau Elena, a Protestant nun from Alsace. Werner is small for his age, but very intelligent: Jutta is a talented artist. They both have snow-blond hair. Werner builds useful things out of junk that he and his sister collect from around town. Jutta and Werner are very close.

Chapter 11 Summary: Key Pound

Marie-Laure goes blind as a result of congenital cataracts. Their neighbors discuss the LeBlancs behind their backs, saying that they must be cursed, because Marie-Laure’s mother died in childbirth and now Marie-Laure is blind. Marie-Laure despairs of making her way in the world, but her father patiently teaches her how to navigate her neighborhood.

He takes her to work with him every day in the museum, where he is a locksmith, responsible for handling the thousands of keys required for the exhibits and contents of the museum, including handing out all of the keys…

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